Bedtime for roses

Lynn Hunt, AKA "The Rose Whisperer", writes for the Christian Science Monitor's garden blog, Diggin' It.

She says -- and I agree -- that while mums and pumpkins dominate the fall garden scene, roses are making their last -- and perhaps sweetest -- appearance of the season.

Enjoy the show, says Lynn, who writes from Maryland's Eastern Shore, because there is less to do to put your roses to bed for the winter than you think.

Her advice?

Don't cut your roses back now. Wait until the forsythia bloom to do that chore.

Having said that, she recommends cutting back ramblers now, so you don't prune off blossoms in the spring. Trim about a third of the growth now and cut out any dead canes.

She also says you should trim bushes that have extra-long canes. This will prevent them from whipping around in the winter wind and injuring themselves, or their neighbors.

Don't trim the rose hips either, she says. They turn lovely colors, and they signal the rose that it is time to stop putting out blooms and rest.

Remove and destroy any leaves that show signs of disease and insect damage. DON'T compost those leaves and DON'T leave them on the ground to infect the soil.

If you have roses that might need extra winter protection -- or if you aren't sure -- you can play it safe and mount soil, compost, mulch or leaves around the crown to prevent heaving.

Your local American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian will be able to give you additional winter tips.


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